Dr. Mary Howell is probably the last person you'd expect to be unraveling a 17-year-old murder case, but it's one that still haunts the 87-year-old still-practicing chiropractor.
On the night of June 4, 1983, her daughter Peggy and husband Doug Ryen, both 41, were savagely hacked to death in the affluent California community of Chino Hills, along with their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and a friend who happened to be spending the night, Christopher Hughes.
Floyd Tidwell, then the sheriff of San Bernadino County, described it as one of the most brutal, senseless crimes.
Howell's grandson, 8 and 1/2-year-old Josh, was also found in the carnage, his throat cut, but somehow he survived. He was rushed to Loma Linda Hospital.
While Howell and a frightened community mourned, the search for the killers was on.
Initially the sheriff was looking for several people because of the number of victims and the injuries, he said.
The killer or killers left no fingerprints; nothing was taken from the Ryen house, except for the family's station wagon.
Then they got a break. While searching what they thought was a vacant house next door to the Ryen house, the sheriff's deputies found evidence that someone had been hiding out there. When they checked phone records, they discovered that two phone calls had been made by a Kevin Cooper, a convicted burglar who had escaped from a minimum-security prison nearby two days earlier.
Aired: 26 Oct 2000